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Food service for personal growth
Food service has long been something of a student occupation. Many people will wait tables or bartend during part of college as a way to earn gas and beer money. For many people, this is a means to an end, and at the end of college, these college graduates hope to never work in restaurants ever again. Most people who have worked in the industry tell horror stories and try to convince others of just how bad the industry is.
However, there is anther class of food service employee. This type of person loves everything about the food service industry. These are people who could never work a nine to five. In my time as a waiter, I have worked with millionaires, Ph.D.’s and high school dropouts. The odd thing was, it became increasingly difficult to discern the differences as I worked with these people day in and day out. Frankly, waiting was the great equalizer and one can quantitatively measure one’s ability at the end of each night on a tip out sheet. No matter what your life looked like yesterday, every night is a new challenge.
People enter the food service industry for one reason —the money. What many people do not realize is that there are waiters, chefs, and bartenders in Birmingham who make more money than some doctors. I have personally seen a W-2 with over six figures from a sommelier friend of mine. He worked four nights a week during the busy season.
It takes years to get to that place, so what makes someone at Chili’s want to keep doing this? The answer is that the lifestyle is easy and more fun than any “real” career. The lifestyle of an average waiter or bartender involves at least as much time spent doing some other hobby or occupation as working. The lifestyle of a food service employee is easy, and as one climbs the cuisine ladder, there is more and more money for less and less work.
In my personal experience, I have known people with degrees from Vanderbilt, Emory, Rhodes, Parsons, and Julliard who chose to wait tables. Many times, the appeal of the real world after leaving academia is thin, and the appeal of the artificial world of lamb popsicles increases.
So next time you go out to eat, realize that your waiter might have a Ph.D.